Statement to CRS Friends and Supporters by Archbishop Paul S. Coakley

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Statement to CRS Friends and Supporters
Archbishop Paul S. Coakley
Archbishop of Oklahoma City
Chair, Catholic Relief Services Board of Directors

January 29, 2015

It has been a blessing for me as chairman of the Board of Directors of Catholic Relief Services to oversee and personally experience the tremendous lifesaving work done around the globe in the name of the Catholic community in the United States. Words cannot fully express the joy and comfort that millions of people have encountered in the witness of the Gospel through the presence of CRS. Faith expressed through love and compassion for people in need distinguishes this work. It is the foundation for all we do to defend human life and dignity, support the integral development of the poor, strive for justice and peace, eliminate the structural causes of poverty and promote solidarity among all of us as one human family.

Collaboration with others is essential to these efforts. It is in itself an expression of our Catholic identity and is vital to the fulfillment of our mission. This collaboration brings us into dialogue with the world, including others who embrace many different religious and secular traditions. The CRS Board of Directors and staff work ceaselessly to ensure that this dialogue upholds our values as a Catholic agency and our commitment to serving those in need. Several important steps have been taken in 2014 to further these ongoing efforts.

  • CRS launched a new required course titled “Catholic Identity,” which provides essential information about the foundation of Catholic identity for the mission and work of CRS. This course enhances our existing training program for all of our nearly 5,000 colleagues around the world and complements previous courses, such as “Protecting Life.”
  • The CRS Board of Directors approved new guidance for all staff regarding the selection and implementation of activities carried out in programs. Additional guidance on relationships with other organizations was approved in December 2014 for managers and directors. This guidance enhances the careful vetting system CRS has in place to ensure that program management, decision making and relationships are consistent with Catholic teaching. The guidance was developed in consultation with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Pro-Life Activities, the USCCB Committee on Doctrine, the National Catholic Bioethics Center, additional moral theologians and other experts.
  • The CRS Board of Directors approved the creation of the Advisory Committee on Catholic Identity, or ACCI, to serve as a sounding board for the understanding and application of moral theology broadly across the agency. The advisory committee includes nationally recognized experts in moral theology, bioethics and systematic theology.

The CRS Board of Directors and I are proud of these new initiatives and believe they will further enhance our ability throughout the agency to continue to serve and represent the Church in today’s increasingly complex and rapidly changing environments. We appreciate the dedication of our staff and the commitment of our supporters as we enhance our collective efforts to serve brothers and sisters entrusted by God to our care.